Doug Ford made a surprise announcement on Thursday, promising a group of university students that the mayor will attend two Pride-related flag-raising ceremonies this year.
But less than two hours later, Rob Ford threw cold water on the idea, telling reporters he's not sure if he will show up.
Since being elected in 2010, the mayor has been heavily criticized for not going to Pride events. After immense public pressure, last year he relented and made an unannounced appearance at the flag ceremony for the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.
On Thursday, Councillor Doug Ford (Etobicoke North) said the mayor had "confirmed" that he would attend the event again in 2013, as well as the Pride kick-off, which he has skipped each year since taking office.
Councillor Ford made the shock statement while appearing with fellow council member Kristyn Wong-Tam as part of a speakers series at the Ted Rogers School of Management entitled "Law, Business, Politics - The Real World."
When asked by moderator Ralph Lean whether the mayor could be convinced to attend the Pride flag-raising, Doug said: "He did it last year. He's confirmed he's doing it again. He's gonna raise both flags. It's a done deal."
Wong-Tam interrupted. "I just want to clarify," she said. "So, Mayor Ford will come out to the International Day Against Homophobia, as well as the Pride Day flag raising?"
"Absolutely," Doug responded.
"Folks let me tell you something," he continued. "I think Kristyn knows this. Talk to [Toronto Sun columnist] Sue-Ann Levy, talk to anyone... We had gay people working on our campaign. Rob doesn't give two hoots if you're gay, straight, purple, pink, black, white. You call Rob Ford up, he's calling ya back, he's showing up to your door. It's very simple."
But when asked a short while later to confirm he will be on hand to hoist the rainbow flag, the mayor balked. NOW put the question to him after he emerged from a meeting with Premier Kathleen Wynne at Queen's Park Thursday afternoon, prompting his press secretary to tug at the mayor's sleeve and call an abrupt end to the scrum.
"I know what I'm gonna be doing tomorrow... and I take one day at a time, so. Thank you, Happy Easter everybody!" Mayor Ford said, and then stepped away from the microphone.
It is not the first time that Councillor Ford and his brother have given contrasting versions of the mayor's position on an issue. The outspoken councillor often claims to speak on behalf of his brother and regularly makes himself available to media, while Rob Ford's public appearances are closely managed.
Last September, during a controversy about the mayor's apparent use of city resources to help him coach high school football, his office was forced to clarify that Councillor Ford was not his brother's spokesperson.
"Doug Ford is a councillor for Ward 2. He represents Ward 2," the mayor's chief of staff told the Globe and Mail at the time. "He does not speak for the mayor or the Mayor's Office."
Reached by phone Thursday evening, Wong-Tam is not surprised to hear that the mayor was non-committal about the flag-raisings.
"I've now learned my lesson at City Hall when it comes to Mayor Ford. Obviously I can confirm that Councillor Ford said what he said in the classroom and there's a videotape of it. But of course I would have loved to hear from the mayor himself," says Wong-Tam (Toronto Centre-Rosedale).
"My experience with Councillor Ford is, I take him at face value. He may have a conversation with the mayor - his brother - that brings him to a conclusion. And I don't know what are the dynamics that exist between them as mayor and as councillor, and definitely I would not pretend to know what happens at the family dinner table between them as brothers."
Wong-Tam says she intends to keep pressing Mayor Ford to attend Pride events.
"It's become my rite of spring here at City Hall. I treat it as one of the things I have to do, as the councillor who represents the largest LGBT community," she says.
The International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia is held every year on May 17. Pride 2013 is scheduled for June 21 to 30.